Its been quite a challenge learning to wear ALL the hats one must wear when owning their own business. Freelancing is in short, not easy. Well, that’s my verdict at present. There’s a lot to learn AND a load of responsibilities to take on. Sales, book keeping, project management, marketing, client relations, budgeting, etc etc etc – all in my court now. And these are not duties I’d prefer to be doing… I’m not exactly ‘built’ for them. A non-left brainer you could say. My experience for 8+ years has been mostly sitting behind the scenes, creating / producing… creating / producing; while an entire team of people (each gifted in their specific area of employment) helped to run and manage the company. And as most designers, or any long-term employees who have taken this plunge will note – you now (and hopefully only in the very very beginning) spend roughly 10-15% of your time actually doing what you are most experienced and gifted at doing. The rest of your time is spent performing unfortunate obligatory tasks from (in my case, a rusty and dusty version of) the left side of your brain. In the words of cartoon Cathy – ack!
But wait – there IS help for us new to this solo scene…
As daunting as learning to start, run and manage my own business has been, I can say that there have been a boat load of people who’ve helped point me in the right direction – as well as fantastic resources both locally, online and at my public library.
I had a million questions when I first started. This list from designm.ag helped answer quite a few, as well as shed some light on the freelance world and put this newly chosen lifestyle into perspective.
An invaluable book, that I highly suggest you read prior to jumping in with both feet, is My So-Called Freelance Life – How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman. She’s a brilliant writer, not to mention hilarious. Having gone through the same process, Michelle’s packed this book with everything you need to know about getting your business started and then maintaining it successfully. Even if you’re tinkering with the thought to venture out solo style – I highly highly recommend this read.
On a local level, check to see if there are any small business development centers (SBDC’s) in your area. In my experience they provide educational resources, training, networking and overall support for us newbies. Often times their services are incredibly affordable or free. If you’re living in western Colorado be sure to look into the Business Incubator Center for help.
Also be sure to get to your local library stat and ask if they have a small business resources center. Mesa County Public Library has a little ‘kiosk’ dedicated to such information, including a handy reference card that lists websites, databases, books and periodicals – including call numbers and all. How cool is that.
Knowing there are tons of tools, resources and very very helpful people out there – eases the stress just a bit. Thousands of people have gone through this process, with success too. So I suppose there’s some hope in that, and now its just a matter of trudging through all these daunting left brained tasks one by one.